With its origins in home automation, the Internet of Things (IoT) has generalised the approach through the concept of smart devices communicating automatically with each other via the internet.
While it is difficult to envisage such an interconnected world of smart devices, the same was true of industrial automation and robotics little more than 50 years. Now, computer aided design is commonplace, most manufacturing employs robotics and automated machines, and services are at least computer based, and often internet based.
Leaving aside security, which remains a major concern for many users of this technology, and device of any type can be converted into a smart device. It can then communicate with other devices, either locally, as in home automation, or more globally via the internet.
IoT will eventually change the landscape of business and employment. Just as automation and better communications within the banking sector is rapidly eliminating the need for local branches, the same will occur in other sectors.
Put quite simply, if one smart device can communicate with another smart device, then they can arrange to work together, and they do not need anyone to supervise them.
For example, a product can be ordered by the customer, scheduled for manufacture, kitted, manufactured, tested, packaged, and shipped to the customer, and entirely without any direct human involvement.
This revolution will take time, mainly because devices have to be modified, or new devices manufactured. As with any investment, the business benefits and potential return will be the drive force, which will vary between business sectors, and the larger organisations are likely to be the first to benefit.
As with home automation, the wider use of IoT is likely to be more locally within SMEs and other smaller organisations.
For example, small businesses will be as keen to improve their security and control their energy usage as householders, and more likely to an even greater extent. If they cannot afford the investment in a hard-wired approach, then the wireless technology is an attractive alternative, especially as the prices of the sensors, control devices and hubs are being driven down by their domestic use.